Princeton Tec Fred
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $24
This headlamp does everything I need it to!
- 4 levels of brightness: 2 white, 2 red
- Red LED
- Won't take lithium cells.
- None that I can find. Still waiting for first set of batteries to die.
This is the 4th headlamp I've owned, and is hands down, the brightest, by far. I was torn between the BD Spot and the PT Fuel, but felt I didn't need 4 levels of brightness from a white LED. I was also able to buy it locally to try out, unlike the Spot, which would have been ordered. My old Rayovac (which I've had to fix numerous times) is now unreliable, so I felt a replacement was necessary.
I bought the Fred with backpacking in mind, but use a headlamp, on average, 4-5 nights a week, for up to an hour each night to split and haul wood to the house during the winter. In addition to that, we're still remodelling our house, so it has to pull triple duty if I'm in the attic or basement, fixing something.
As I said, the light has done everything I've asked of it over the past 4 months, and hasn't let me down. It has a rubber coated switch on the housing that, when depressed, immediately turns on low-red LED mode. If it is depressed again, within a second or so, it will go into bright-red-LED mode, which I've used on occasion to load wood.
I found both red modes usefull while backpacking on the AT a few weekends ago. I was with 5 other friends and was able to see to prep my bivy without ruining my night vision (it was a super clear, cold, starry night). Holding the switch down for approximately 2 seconds turns on the low-white LED. This has been all I've needed for loading and splitting wood.
On white-low, I can easily see 20-30 yards - more than enough. Depressing the switch a second time once in low-white mode turns on high-white mode. I decided to try this mode while on the AT. I took a short hike away from our shelter area, and was surprised at how far the light could reach. I could easily see each white blaze on the trail. Will I use it for a night hike on the AT? Unlikely - but it's nice to know I could if I had to.
The light is based on the PT Fuel, and uses three AAA batteries. On my scale, it weighs 2.8 ounces with batteries, a full 2 onces less than my old Rayovac.
The only minus I could find is that the light will not accept lithium batteries. I emailed Princeton Tec and was told to use conventional batteries only. Regarding some of the problems others have had with the Fuel (ie. turning on in the pack and broken battery covers) I haven't had any problems.
It didn't turn on in my pack while hiking 12+ miles, and, I've only ever placed the original batteries in it, which currently have an estimated 24 hours on them, with no dimming. The cold had no affect on it either. I awoke at about 0400 needing to relieve myself and noticed my water bottle was frozen, the Fred (sitting beside it) turned on no problem, again, with no dimming.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this light for an all-around, reliable headlamp.
Did I mention it was made in the USA?